Amlak Redsquare am 2.9.16 in der Jupi Bar und im Interview – es ist, was es ist!


Introducing: Amlak Redsquare

Kommunikation wird immer schneller, kürzer, komplizierter, und ohne die richtige App fällt es fast schon schwer, mit Freunden und Familie in Kontakt zu bleiben. Inmitten dieses digitalen Wahnsinns tut es gut, einen solch besonnenen und geerdeten Menschen zu treffen wie Amlak Redsquare. Er nennt die Dinge einfach mal beim Namen, um ihnen auf den Grund zu gehen – eine rare Tugend in der heutigen Zeit. Kaum zu glauben, dass dieser junge Mann ein talentierter, aufstrebender Künstler ist, so ganz ohne Star-Allüren, Macho-Gehabe und Bling-Bling. Er überzeugt eben mehr durch Sein als durch Schein, beeindruckt mit Ruhe und Inhalt.

Sein Gastspiel in Hamburg am vergangenen Wochenende war eine ebenso entspannte wie anregende Erfahrung, für welche die gemütliche Jupi-Bar im Gängeviertel genau den richtigen Rahmen bot. In einem fast dreistündigen Set begleitete Amlak Redsquare im “original MC-Style” den durch den Kölner Harry vertretenen True Lion Sound. Eine schöne Selection hatte jener ausgesucht, immer wieder ergänzt durch Riddim Tracks, auf denen Amlak seine eigenen, eingängigen Kreationen präsentierte. Am besten gefallen haben mir dabei die wenigen Acapella-Songs: reduziert auf seine Stimme füllte der Sänger selbige mit viel Gefühl, war ganz bei sich, seinen Worten und dem Publikum, das zwar nicht zahlreich, dafür aber umso neugieriger erschienen war.

Irie Ites nutzte eine ruhige Minute beim diesjährigen Reggae Jam, um mit Amlak über seinen Werdegang, seinen Onkel Spragga Benz und sein kurz vor der Veröffentlichung stehendes Debut-Album “Book Of Judges” zu sprechen:


 We are here at Reggae Jam with Amlak Redsquare. Tell us something about where you come from, your musical background!

Blessed love Irie Ites! Well, I am Amlak Redsquare, born in Kingston Jamaica, Kingston 16 to be exact. I got started in the music via my uncle Spragge Benz, you know, he is the one who actually introduced me to the world. I grew up in his household, so he is like a father to me. Basically, everything musical I learned from him.

After secondary school, I went to America for a couple of years. I went to college, graduated and then after graduation I decided to take the music a little bit more serious. My uncle kinda pushed me to it, because he saw that I really had a love for it. Also the passing of my cousin Carlyle who is Spragga’s eldest son kinda gave me an even greater push, because I felt that his life was cut short for reasons beyond our control and maybe it was meant for me to carry on his work. He was 17 years old when he died. He was acting in the movie Shottas as well, portraying the younger version of Spragga. It was very hurtful to know that he had a potential to become someone great, so I felt like I had to step in to fill that void, because we were very close as well. I wrote a song called Bertie Son in his memory and honour.

And Spragga set up the Carlyle Foundation to help the less fortunate youths of the inner city who are not able to pay school tuition and such. We support schools as well, giving them computers and books and stuff like that on a regular basis. What we do is we donate a portion of our earnings to the Carlyle Foundation, to keep it going.

Wow, respect. Describing your music in general, what are subjects that are important to you, that you sing about?

I touch various subjects. Reality. I do message music, basically, most of my songs are about messages from in and around my surroundings, even on a wider scale, you know, anywhere in the world. I draw inspiration from just about anything, because messages are something I believe in. I don’t really believe in party music; I have no problem with it, but I prefer to do message music.

So do you consider yourself a Roots artist?

It doesn’t really have a title… It’s whatever I feel on a riddim! If I get a Roots riddim I might get rootsy, if I get a dub riddim I might do something dubby on it, you know. It just depends on the vibe, I don’t really corner myself.

Are you working with any producer at the moment?

Well, the current album that I’m working on right now, the “Book Of Judges” album, is basically co-produced by myself, RSQRE Productions and True Lion Sounds Productions from outta Cologne, Germany.

When will it come out?

Later this year. We just released the first single entitled Judge, we also released the video for it, Julian premiered it on Reggaeville, so we give thanks. It’s been getting a good feedback so far, so we are looking forward to the completion of the album!

You were at Reggae Jam already last year – between then and now, did you have any shows?

Yes man, we did a couple of shows locally in Jamaica, and we went to Guyana also to perform for the 50th anniversary of Guyana’s independence. We did a lot of shows in between, leading up to this moment! What we did last year with Spragga on the main stage was a great opening for us, so to speak, for me personally. We also did Reggae Geel, and it really kinda gave me an audience and brought attention to my music. Because of this now we started to get more bookings, we did more recordings, and it’s the reason why we are back here now.

Nice. You also don’t hesitate to perform on small stages, right? We saw you perform at the Sandwichmaker earlier today!

No, because we don’t discriminate in terms of audiences. I know where we are coming from, I wasn’t born rich, you know what I mean? I perform for the people! People are people, no matter where you are, if you are at a small stage or at a big stage. People are still people and the message is still to be heard, so it doesn’t really matter where I am performing.

At your Kingston base, what grounds you, what gives you energy?

Mostly reading, to be honest, books about Haile Selassie, some novels, but mostly books about Africa, Ethiopia. I am more of a person who is withdrawn which is not really good in a sense, but, you know, it sometimes allows me to stay clear of certain energies. I might miss an opportunity or two, but it is what it is. I gain other opportunities by just being myself, and eventually the people who will love me for me will truly love me for me!

Being a withdrawn person, would you say that changes once you go on stage and pick up the mic?

Yeah man of course! (laughs) It is an excitement within you that you want to release, it’s like a Jekyll and Hyde sort of thing… If you see me in one corner by myself, I’m probably just observing everything, very quiet, very silent, and then you see me on stage and it’s a different story!

How do you like the Reggae Jam so far?

I like most that it’s a very family-oriented vibe. I see people with their children here, the music is clean, it’s very different from Jamaica where it’s raw you know, very raw. So that kind of energy is good, it’s good to have the family vibration and to see people actually introducing their kids to that positive vibe, to carry on the cycle. Yeah man. It’s a good vibe.

Looking at the world in general, what do you think are the most pressing issues in our world right now?

(laughs) You know, people ask me this all the time, and I have a weird answer to that. It is what it is. Things are happening because they are supposed to happen, you know what I mean? We can’t stop terrorists from doing what they do, and a terrorist can’t stop good people from doing what they do. So it’s a life cycle, basically. Things that are happening now will continue to happen till it reaches to that point of where it stops. I can’t really say for certain that this will happen or that will happen, I just know that this is life’s cycle and it continues no matter what. And you choose your road! At the end of the day, you have good and bad people, and we all choose our own roads that we want to walk. Sometimes it’s difficult to even be good, to be honest, because you are faced with a lot of situations where you find it hard to say ‘I’m not even saying anything’ or ‘I leave that alone’, because of your personality. So, good people will continue to do good and bad people will continue to be bad. You just have to choose your road and meditate and stay in your good lane and everything will work out for you and whoever is in your circle.

What vision do you have for your future? Where do you see yourself in a few years time?

I know that I’ll still be here doing music, bringing positive and at times rebellious messages. I’ll still be here doing what I love to do and what I think Carlyle would be doing same way. Music! Wherever that propels me or takes me, I give thanks.

Give thanks to you for this interview!

Text & Fotos: Gardy Stein

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About Gardy

Gemini, mother of two wonderful kids, Ph.D. Student of African Linguistics, aspiring author...